Like many other young people, Molly Macaire chose to participate in the DofE programme in order to challenge herself. She was eager to find a goal which she could work towards with her peers, and wanted to prove to herself that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to.
For the Bronze stage of the award, Molly chose to create a project which would provide children living in a disadvantaged area of Kenya with the opportunity to self-educate. Entitled ‘EDCLUB’, this project was inspired by a speech given by Sugata Mitra, a professor that most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, will probably have heard of (The Business Week bio on Tunde Folawiyo provides more information about this entrepreneur).
Mitra had created a series of educational centres specifically for children residing in the poorest parts of India. These centres gave the children access to both high tech computers and the internet. The mentors then encouraged those in attendance to teach themselves about any subjects which interested them, by searching for the answers online. Mitra’s theory was children are, by their very nature, inherently inquisitive, and that given the right tools, they would be quite capable of educating themselves, even if they were not in a formal school environment.
Anyone with an interest in youth development, like Tunde Folawiyo, will most likely be familiar with Mitra’s method. Now referred to as MIE (Minimally Invasive Education), it has successfully shown that children, regardless of their social status or background, can learn how to use computers and teach themselves everything they need to know – even if they don’t speak English.
Molly decided to set up a similar project in the Kenyan village of Huruma. A company called Stonehouse Ltd donated the first computer, and after several more fundraising events, Molly managed to purchase three additional computers. EDCLUB has been a resounding success, and over time, many other children living in the village have chosen to get involved. As a result of their enthusiasm, Molly built an internet lab on a piece of land donated by the Kenya Forest Service, and hired 90 volunteer mentors.
The project is continuing to expand, with 22 more mentors joining the team this coming September. Ultimately, Molly hopes to get every child from Huruma involved. In addition to having a profoundly positive impact on the lives of young people living in this part of Kenya, EDCLUB has also helped Molly; in an interview, she explained that completing this part of the award had enabled her to develop many important life skills, including the ability to compromise, and to work as part of a team. It also allowed her to overcome her fear of public speaking.